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Agrimarketing : January February 2015
AGRI-MEDIA THE EVOLUTION OF AGRICULTURAL TV T by Mike Gustafson, Deer’s Landing Communications he evolution of technology in TV has allowed agri-marketers to adapt their usage of that medium over the years. In the 1950’s a television set became affordable to most households and became more accessible to people in remote, rural areas. Many stations started to develop ag-oriented programs with information on markets, weather and rural issues. While these programs were often in the early morning hours, some local stations serving rural areas also broadcast 5- to 10-minute ag segments during the noon hour. Along came the 1970s and 1980s. Media buyers started running spots in the evening and late night (10 p.m.) news and weather. Some even opted to buy spots in prime time, if budgets allowed. The first all-ag weekly broadcast television program — “U.S. Farm Report” – went on the air in 1976, hosted by Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong. The program was owned by Tribune Entertainment which broadcast it on its Superstation WGNand syndicated it to other TV stations. “AgDay,” the first daily all-ag program, made its debut in 1982. Originally founded by Neil Nusbaum, a successful agribusinessman located in Monticello, IN, the first show was produced at WTHI, in Terra Haute, IN, and distributed to a fledging network of 35 Midwest TV stations. The real game changer for the rural TV viewer, though, came in the form of RFD-TV. Launched in December 2000, RFD-TV was the nation’s first 24-hour television cable/satellite network dedicated to serving the needs and interests of rural America. Today’s RFD-TV programming continues to focus on agriculture, equine and the rural lifestyle, along with traditional country music and entertainment. Ag shows include “Ag Day,” “Ag-PhD,” “American 20 Agri Marketing s January/February 2015 Haller Brighton Agency Reese McCormick Co Agri-Women,” “Cattlemen to Cattlemen,” “Corn College TV,” “FFA Today,” “Machinery Pete TV,” “Machinery Show,” “Rural Evening News,” “This Week in Agribusiness,” “U.S. Farm Report” and many more. And, while the media landscape has never been more packed with options and opportunities to reach agricultural producers and ranchers, television, again, is seeing a resurgence in popularity with ag media strategists and buyers. Agri Marketingmagazine asked some of the top ag agency media managers to weigh in on television’s past, its current rise in popularity as an effective media tool, and what the future may bring. The round-table comments come from Ted Haller, VP, Media Planning, Brighton Agency; Pat Reese, Media Director, McCormick Company; Eric Nelson, Director, Osborn Barr and Tim Burke, Senior VP, Group Acct Director, Martin|Williams. PAST PERFORMANCE Haller reports: “The most common TV market selection was to overlay sales within a Designated Market Area (DMA) and do a Cost Per Acre or Cost Per Sales to determine the best market list.” “Back in the old days, ag TV was just about all syndication, and stations would often bonus the ag spots for a good share of the spot buy.” Reese agrees, “TV was only included on the buys in the Nelson Osborn Barr Burke Martin | Williams markets/DMAs where we felt it would have the most impact and the least waste. “Many different factors were considered when looking at TV,” she continues. “For instance, the number of corn acres per DMA. “We would look at a cost per acre and index the DMAs under consideration. From this list, and working with the client, we would then select the best TV DMA markets.” Burke notes, “If you go back 30 years, there was a time when one third of all advertising in the 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. news in the Midwest was ag commercials during the winter months, and a heavy percentage of those were ag chemicals. “There was grower backlash that the industry was not helping the image of agriculture among consumers, so the use of television declined in the ’90s,” Burke continues. “When TV returned to the media mix, news programming and programs that indexed high among the farm target continued to be the basis of TV plans. However, the advertising messages were more discerning.” Nelson says, “In general, the entire TV landscape was very different. Cable penetration was still low outside of the top markets, and satellite was still just gaining its foothold in the more rural markets which affects most ag communities.” TV’S METEORIC RISE Nelson continues, “It wasn’t until 2000 that satellite providers topped
Marketing Services Guide 2015